Lucca guide from A to Z

Categories Art in Lucca

A – Amphitheater square. Maybe the best place in Lucca to see and to understand the history of the city, a heart and a memory location for the locals. It should be listed in one of the most beautiful Italian piazza. Be prepared because it might takes your breath away when you step inside…

Amphitheater square Lucca

B – Bike. The lucchese people are definitely in love with their two-wheels vehicles. Vintage, rusty, brand new or nicely customized with a flower basket or wine cases, they are part of the urban street furniture. It could be either a pretty lady with high heels, a busy man in a suit, an old lady going grocery shopping or the pizza delivery guy, you will see them confidently riding and zigzagging in the crowd holding an umbrella or speaking over the phone. You should know we get properly trained since we were kids!

C – Churches. I know this could be applied to Italy in general, however I am sure you will be surprised how many churches and religious buildings are concentrated inside the walls perimeter. Not without reason it is called the city of 100 churches

Church in Lucca

D – Devil. The first mention goes to the famous devil’s bridge outside Lucca, but then the Devil has always liked to have a hand in they city business… kids love to hear these stories!

devil's bridge

E – Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Our green gold. Very likely each Lucchese you will meet, he will proudly admit “I have an olive grove and relatives in America”… I do not need to add that we are quite serious about our oil, right? It is one of the few examples of a Lucchese business/industry that has gone even beyond the national borders.

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

F – Fillungo is above all the “place to be”, the high street, the main shopping street where the locals come to do their bella figura… almost a fashion catwalk on a Saturday afternoon.

G – Garbo an old say goes “Come to Lucca to learn the garbo”, which means the good manners, the politeness and something more… almost a lifestyle. It was valid at least till Second World War when the division inside/outside the walls was still relevant. So that the less educated people of the countryside were invited to come into the city to learn how to behave in the society, to speak correctly…

H – Holy Face. If the lucchese were asked to vote for a King, they would defintely elect the Holy Face. It does not matter if it is a religious object, this crucifix has always received such a big devotion to overtake almost the patron saint, however the celebrations are still discussed nowadays because it is not just a traditional religious procession…

Holy Face in Lucca

I – Inside the walls, I think it might sound quite weird to hear I live inside the walls. That’s the reason why I strongly suggest you to see them, to walk up and down, in and out to fully understand the reinassance walls. Lucca would not be Lucca without the walls, maybe even the locals and I have an unconditional love for the walls…

Inside the walls in Lucca

L – Liberty/Libertas the city motto, a feeling, a key-concept of the city history.

Liberty/Libertas the city motto of Lucca

M – Medieval because when you walk in the city, especially at night, you will expect to meet a knight riding his horse instead the lights of a car.

a knight riding his horse

N –Napoleon Bonaparte, very unlikely, he ever came to Lucca. Anyway, the Lucchese people were not so much disappointed by that, as they could hardly bear his sister Elisa, as a Princess. So just ask for Piazza Grande instead of Piazza Napoleone to win a smile from the locals and to receive the right directions!

O – Outside the walls is it still Lucca? I know it can be confusing, but do not forget there is much more to be discovered and so close by! Fancy a day at the beach? Then head to Versilia! Feel more an explorer of quiet and hill top villages and a nature lover? Then Garfagnana is your top choice.

P – Puccini, the great Maestro was born in Lucca in 1858. Meet him in Piazza Cittadella, learn his life at the home museum and visit his favorite places in town, how much did this city influence him and his operas? Do not leave without attending the concert!

Puccini and Lucca

Q – Quercia, Jacopo not a Lucchese, but a Senese artist. He left one of the masterpieces of Italian sculpture in Lucca’s cathedral. Save some time to admire Ilaria, sit down and be enchanted by her timeless sleep.

Italian sculpture in Lucca’s cathedral

R – Rivalry there is been lot of water under the bridge, but nothing has changed the fact that it’s better to have a corpse in your house than a Pisan at your door…

S – Silk, how could such a small city afford to be independent? If you see a piece of Lucchese silk, no further explanation is necessary…

a piece of Lucchese silk

T – Towers are a distinctive feature of a medieval city and Lucca can boast one with trees on top, how cool is that?

Towers in Lucca

U – Usurers or bankers? The Lucchese people and money: a special relationship, this could be the subtitle. It is clearly proved by history that the people have had a good sense for business and this made the fortune of the city. The bank art started in the early medieval times: currency change and money lenders. Today the lenders would be considered usurers, since the interest rate were extremely high! That’s why one of the inscriptions at the Cathedral sounds as an oath: the pilgrims visiting the Holy Face can change their money here and be sure they will not be cheated as they bankers are working under God’s surveillance. The kings of foreign countries heard about this small community with great financial means and they began to contract loans, which later became never returned debts. So much honor and not credit to the Guinigi family who lend money to the English Royal family…

V – Villa while the city centre has the palaces, the countryside has instead the beautiful noble villas. Some of these summer residences are still lived by the owners, but they open their doors and especially their gates to let you wander in their huge gardens made of grottos, fountains, exotic plants, green theatres and more. I hope I will have the chance to lead you along the camelia path of Villa Reale and tell you the story of a special wedding…

(Villa Reale photo credits Salvatore Scuotto)

Z – Zita a medieval saint particularly dear to the Lucchese people, celebrated on April 27th with a flower market in the Amphitheater square and in Piazza San Frediano. Grab your bunch of daffodils if you like to respect the tradition and pay her a visit inside the church… it might be a little creepy, so make sure you know her life and miracles. I really like to tell her fairy tale life, it is fascinating for any type of audience.

Zita a medieval saint in Lucca